Recycling metal is better for the environment than you might think
Metal is constantly in demand in the modern world and this situation is not likely to change anytime soon. However, mining can carry serious consequences for the environment and local habitat. Reducing these risks is therefore important for a better future for our society and the world as a whole.
Environmental costs of mining
Metal extraction leads to deforestation and pollution of surrounding territories. Chemicals used during processing might not only contaminate the land but also affect water supplies, thus endangering the health of the local population. Another big issue with mining is the huge amount of energy necessary for the whole process of obtaining new metals.
How is recycling helpful?
Recycling metal is a very efficient way of obtaining materials for new products. The majority of metal in use today can be melted down and used in the creation of new objects, instead of ending up in a scrapyard. The recycling process consumes only a small percentage of the energy needed to extract and process ores. It also creates significantly less pollution and reduces greenhouse gas emissions.
Metals have the highest recycling rates
One of the most common metals that are easy to recycle is aluminum. It’s 100% recyclable without any loss in quality during the process, which makes converting an old can into a new one not only environment-friendly, but also cost-effective.
Lead is one of the most recycled materials and is mainly used in the production of lead batteries. Nearly all of it can be easily recovered and recycled. Currently, the lead battery recycling rate in North America and Europe is almost 100% .
Steel is recycled more than any other material. It gives many opportunities to recover bigger structures, making the whole process much more efficient. Nearly 40% of steel products are created using recycled material, but many of them remain in use for long years and the demand for new steel is constantly raising. For this reason, it’s important to improve the recycling rate even further.
There’s room for improvement
It’s true that metals have great recycling rates compared to other materials. This doesn’t mean, however, that nothing more can be done. We should encourage manufacture of goods which can be easily disassembled and make metal separation easier. Improvements can also be made to areas such as waste management or recycling infrastructure. But it’s not only an issue for big companies and whole communities – every single person can do their own bit to help. All it takes is making sure that the products we no longer need end up being recycled, not in a dustbin.